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Kenya has no special courts dedicated on matters SGBV eventhough it has others that handle corruption, Land, Environment, Labour among others. /FILE.

Kenya

JHR-Kenya welcomes judges’ call for special courts on Sexual Gender Based Violence

By Liz Mbula

NAIROBI, Kenya July 16 – Journalists for Human Rights-Kenya has welcomed a proposal by female judges who want a special court established to try Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

Kenya has no special court on gender-related issues even though it has dedicated courts that deal with corruption, Environment, Land, Employment among others.

“Sexual violence is not only a serious crime but is a crime against humanity. It requires to be handled expertly because a lot is lost when victims navigate the justice system,” said Winy Syombua, a Gender Lead at JHR that also runs Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights (VWGR). ” A special court will not only employ subject expertise but will also endeavour to hear cases expeditiously.”

She told Capital FM News that the proposal by female judges will play a major role in ensuring justice is served expeditiously on women and girls because most of them are often intimidated when seeking justice.

“Delayed justice has been double trauma for victims of GBV. A dedicated court means that victims will get justice promptly and it will give GBV the attention it deserves and send a warning to perpetrators which in the long run will act as a deterrence measure,” said Judie Kaberia, a Gender Media Trainer at JHR.

Syombua and Kaberia were responding to calls that dominated the International Association of Women Judges-Kenya Chapter and UN Women where SGBV courts were discussed.

During the virtual meeting, Justice Agnes Murgor said that of established, the special court will ease the burden women face in seeking justice.

“As women judges, we continue to advocate for dedicated courts to deal with SGBV matters,” Justice Agnes Murgor said when she attended the online session on First Responders’ role in combating Sexual Gender-Based violence.

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Only South Africa, South Sudan and Botswana special courts in the continent dedicated on delivering justice to GBV survivors.

The Judiciary is yet to respond to our request for comment on the calls to have special GBV courts.

The calls are timely, due to the increased GBV cases fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic that confined most families at home due to lockdowns since March last year.

Gender-Based Violence cases hit record high numbers in Kenya in 2020, raising concerns on the safety of women and girls who are the most vulnerable and affected in society, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official statistics from the Gender Ministry show a 36 percent spike in GBV cases in 2020 when 5,009 cases were recorded.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced a raft of measures to incorporate key services in the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program by the end of next year so as to help end SGBV in the country.

Currently, such services are offered at a fee, which many victims, particularly in the informal settlements where the vice is rampant, find inaccessible or expensive.
“The President noted that GBV including medical, legal, and psychological support services would be integrated into the essential minimum package of UHC by 2022,” State House said, quoting President Uhuru Kenyatta who has also announced plans to conduct a survey on GBV under the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey in addition to developing a system for managing the vice.
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